Day 11: Aug 1st
How hard would it be to exchange your booking confirmation for the train journey to tickets? The answer, as we found out….extremely hard!! Not because we didn’t know what to do, but as we found out at Moscow train station, no one was able to help us, because they couldn’t understand what we were asking them!
It seemed easy enough a task. Our travel agent in Singapore told us that we would need to exchange our booking slips for the real tickets at the station itself. Easy right? After taking an hour ( yup, you read that right! we only finally found it as we asked a kid called Ivan who spoke pretty good English. Some miracle!:)) to actually find the ticketing counter as there were no signs in English and we were pointed in various different directions by people who thought they understood us, we finally got in a long queue. After another wait, we were told at the top of the queue in Russian what I presume translated to, “Sorry, I can’t help you!”, when the lady returned our booking slips back to us. We finally found a self service machine that had an English option and printed our tickets. But we were just so amazed that something that should have taken just 15 min took us almost an hour and a half! Phew!:) it’s no wonder we haven’t seen many tourists outside of an organized tour group…in fact we’ve seen none at all!
We went back into the city to check out the State Museum but we were too tired after the morning’s ordeal to really enjoy it. But we were getting very excited about the train journey itself.
Finally it was 7 pm and we got on the train to Yekaterinburg….something we had been dreaming about for a long time… We did it! We were finally on the Trans-Siberian!! And now we had 30 hours to kill!:)
Day 12: Aug 2nd
We spent the previous evening chatting to the other 2 guys in our compartment. Both were on their way to Kazan, a large industrial town just over halfway to Yekaterinburg. Both spoke enough English that we were able to have a conversation in broken English. They taught us some key Russian words and alphabets and Bill is having a great time trying to read everything around him. It’s like a puzzle to him.:)
Anyway, we found out one of the guys is a champion power lifter in his weight category and was off to Bratislava, Slovakia next week to take part in the European Championships. He is part of team Russia and is expected to set the record there next week. We’ll look for him in the news. How amazing!
We haven’t eaten much today.. I guess we’re not too hungry as we haven’t moved much all day. Most people survive on instant noodles.. And who am I to argue. I love them! Just ask my folks how much maggi I ate as a kid.
The trains are reasonably comfortable. We are in a second class train with four sleeper berths in one compartment. There is a hot water dispenser in every car. We had read about about this so we came well prepared… instant noodles, tea bags, chips, biscuits, a thermos and plastic cutlery! The food car has a menu entirely in Russian so we’re not sure how helpful that would be anyway.
We’re looking forward to getting to Yekaterinburg tonight…where hot showers and clean clothes await! 🙂
Update: In Yekaterinburg finally….more adventures tomorrow.